08/02/15: Investing Inspiration and Enlightenment from Freedom Fest

Freedom is more than just an ideal.  It’s a powerful force which inspires super-human effort, creativity and sacrifice.

Freedom is what inspires many real estate investors to invest time and risk capital.  They want to be financially free.Freedom is one of mankind's most precious rights

In our 6th annual pilgrimage to Freedom Fest, we met several very interesting people…each of whom have a unique a real estate story to tell.

We’re quite sure their stories will inspire you!

Exercising their right to free speech in this enlightening episode:

  • The founding father of The Real Estate Guys™ radio show, host Robert Helms
  • His talent-free co-host, Russell Gray
  • Chinese immigrant to the U.S. and real estate investor, Lily Tang Williams
  • International farmland investor and entrepreneur, Craig Colley
  • Managing Director of the Competitiveness and Enterprise Cities Project, Shanker Singham
  • Venture capital and private equity entrepreneur, Erick Brimen
  • Real estate syndicator and long-time listener, Dr. Eric Tait

Freedom Fest bills itself as the world’s largest gathering of free minds.  After attending six years in a row, we’d have to agree.

And while we always enjoy landing interviews with big names like Steve Forbes, Grover Norquist and Donald Trump, sometimes the most interesting people we meet are far from household names.

The opening session at Freedom Fest featured a panel of people who were sharing their answer to the question:  Is the American Dream Still Alive?

One of the panelists was a fiery Chinese immigrant named Lily Tang Williams.

Lily got us so fired up, we decided we wanted to share her with you!

As you’ll hear, Lily is from mainland China.  And in spite of all the progress made in China, their people are far from free.

So Lily decided she wanted to leave China and come to America to pursue the American Dream.

Lily Tang Williams arrives in America from China in 1988She borrowed some money from relatives and landed in America.  She could barely speak English and had $100 of borrowed money in her pocket.

But she had a dream.

And as fate would have it, she picked up a copy of a little purple book called Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki.Rich Dad Poor Dad is a book about investing and business that has impacted the lives of millions of people around the world

Now Lily had more than a dream.  She had a plan.

She realized she could buy real estate using the lender’s money.

So she called up her friends in China and said, “Hey!  Let’s buy some U.S. real estate and become financially free!”

But her friends said no.

Undeterred, Lily and her husband did it anyway.

Today, they own several properties and Lily is a full time real estate investor.

No matter how many times we hear these stories (and we hear them a lot!)…we never get tired of them.  We can only imagine how Robert Kiyosaki feels.

Next on deck is Craig Colley.

Craig’s story is very different.

He ended up looking OUTSIDE the United States for opportunity and ended up in Nicaragua where he discovered the concept of investing in timber.

Craig found out that no matter what gyrations the financial markets are going through…booms, busts, panics, collapses, corruption or geo-political turmoil…

Trees just keep growing…about 6-8 percent per year.  Stop and think about that for a moment.  The asset is the tree and it grows…naturally….consistently…predictably.

Trees keep growing...pretty much no matter what's happening in the worldCombine this with a similarly predictable phenomenon…global population which just keeps growing too. And along with that growth comes a growing need for timber.  It’s the same thing we like about farmland in general.

When you’re investing for the long term, you can almost completely ignore all the daily drama of financial markets…and simply bank on trees and population to just keep growing.

When you consider the long term trend of currency devaluations around the world, investments in farmland which produce a durable, universally needed commodity like timber make sense as a long term, inflation hedged,  and relatively stable long term investment.

Eventually those trees get sold.  But you still have the land.  And guess what?  You can grow more trees!  That’s nothing to bark at.  Nice.  Sounds like a stupid pun we wood make.  We probably shouldn’t branch off into humor.  We better just leaf it alone.  We don’t want our audience to splinter.

Okay, on back to the broadcast…

Then we sat down with Shanker Singham and Erick Brimen.

Shanker is a big time braniac with a really cool English accent.  So not only is Shanker truly brilliant…but he SOUNDS super smart as well!

Shanker Sigham is the Managing Director of the Competitiveness and Enterprise Cities ProjectWe’d read off his resume, but we’d get carpal tunnel.

The main thing to know is that Shanker heads up something called the Competitiveness and Enterprise Cities Project though Babson College.

Babson College is one of the most prolific and respected entrepreneur schools in the world.

The Competitiveness and Enterprise Cities Project is all about coaching countries on how to attract people, business and capital by creating a welcoming environment called an Enterprise City.

It’s like an enterprise zone on steroids.

Think of the U.S. way back in the early days…a place with a stable set of laws which protected the freedom of enterprise and its fruits…rather than hindering it with obstacles and burdens.

Of course, it takes money to get things going.  And that’s where Erick Brimen comes in.

Erick raises capital from private investors to acquire the land.  And he does it when he knows the city is about to be approved by the government.  Very clever.

This is clearly inside information, but guess what?  As we always say…inside information is perfectly legal in real estate.  We love it.

Naturally, when the enterprise zoning is announced and business and capital start to arrive, the land appreciates substantially…and not based on inflation…but because of an actual increase in demand.

Awesome.

But what’s even better is the social aspect of this type of investing.

You can imagine the impact on the region in terms of creating opportunities for the local people.

It’s like when Walt Disney surreptitiously aggregated land in central Florida…and then built Disney World.Disney World changed the economy of Orlando Florida

Sure, he made millions.  He deserved to because he created massive value for the world.

But that “enterprise city” called Disney World created many thousands of jobs and all kinds of local businesses sprouted up around it.

The point is it’s not only possible…but preferable…to do well by doing good.

So when the entire Freedom Fest experience was over, we sat down with our good friend, long-time listener and alumni of our Secrets of Successful Syndication seminar…Dr. Eric Tait…and asked him to share his reflections in his very first Freedom Fest.

In short, Dr. Tait found…as we have over the years…that Freedom Fest is a great place to go to find a smorgasbord of people and ideas.  And while you might not agree with everything everyone says, your thinking and imagination are stimulated.

So listen in to this episode and allow yourself to be both inspired and enlightened!

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10/26/14: Halloween Horror Stories – Terrifying Tales from the Trenches

Real estate investing isn’t always sunshine and unicorns.  In fact, sometimes it’s downright scary.

But in every terrifying trial, there’s usually a valuable lesson…IF you’re willing to push through to the finish and then reflect on the experience.

In this episode, we cobble together a series of interviews with real life real estate investors.  We ask for their most blood-curdling horror story, how they got through it, and what they learned.

In the broadcast crypt for this monster mash of terrifying tales…

  • Your crypt keeper and host, Robert Helms
  • His hunch-backed henchman, co-host Russell Gray
  • Atlanta, Georgia real estate investor and turnkey property provider, Ken Corsini
  • Orlando, Florida real estate investor and turnkey property provider, Greg Bond
  • Grand Rapids, Michigan property manager and real estate entrepreneur, Justin Bajema
  • Lancaster, Pennsylvania real estate investor, Dave Zook
  • Houston, Texas real estate investor, Dr. Eric Tait
  • Atlanta, Georgia real estate investor and turnkey property provider, Michael Keefe
  • California based investor and real estate broker, Jerry Hicks

You can tell by the line-up we have a lot of ground to cover…and we don’t want to spoil the suspense by revealing too many of the details.

So, we’ll just offer the following tips and teases:

When Ken Corsini found himself suffering from a case of disappearing equity, he found out that you always need to do your due diligence…and you should never buy a property just because it has a tenant.

And when Greg Bond discovered that pets and property can be a messy business, he learned that tile could be his new best friend.

Justin Bajema echoes Ken Corsini’s epiphany that you always need to do your due diligence, and adds how important it is to know what you are…and aren’t…willing to do to make a profit.

Dave Zook is another investor who also understand the importance of due diligence.  And when you’re up against something that’s a little deeper than your level of understanding, you’d do well to make sure you have an advisor who’s experienced in the problem you’re facing.

Now up to now, it’s been fun and games.  Even though the stories up to this point have been painful and expensive, we’re only talking about losing time, money…and maybe some hair.

But when it comes to the case of Arkansas real estate broker Beverly Carter, there’s nothing to laugh about.

If you’re not familiar with the story, the short of it is that Carter met an unknown prospective client…alone…at a vacant property in a remote area.  In hindsight, it seems like a bad idea.

But for Beverly Carter, there is no hindsight…because she didn’t live to learn the lesson.  Tragically, she was later found murdered.

And even though the alleged perpetrator has been apprehended, that’s a small consolation for Beverly Carter’s family.

One of the most valuable lessons from Beverly Carter’s horrible fate is how important it is to be aware, prepared and trained.  Because you never know when danger may appear.

Next, Dr. Eric Tait explains how a fatal stabbing took place in one of his rental units…and how important it is to have proper policies in place.  He also found out that a group of committed owners and local law enforcement can work together to reduce trouble.

Then, Michael Keefe shares how his attempt to save a few hundred dollars on legal fees ended up costing over $50,000…all for the lack of three little words.  What is that…over $16,000 per word???

Lastly, Jerry Hicks relates the story of putting together a large syndication to do a real estate development project in the San Francisco Bay Area…only to find out his lead investor really didn’t have any money.

Jerry was able to use bankruptcy laws to buy time to get the property sold and make all the other investor whole.  Lots of lessons there, but the big one is to make sure you know your investors are qualified before they are in position to ruin your deal.

Tune in and hear all the frightening details…direct from the investors who paid the price for the lessons.

Listen Now:

  • Want more? Sign up for The Real Estate Guysfree newsletter and visit our Special Reports library.
  • Don’t miss an episode of The Real Estate Guys™ radio show.  Subscribe to the free podcast!
  • Stay connected with The Real Estate Guys™ on Facebook!

The Real Estate Guys™ radio show and podcast provides real estate investing news, education, training and resources that help real estate investors succeed.